Category Archives: Getting the Word Out- Public Relations

Ideas for how to reach out to as many people as possible to provide education, recognition and support for sustainability.

Please sign, share, forward…

A draft of an Alternative Building Code is stalled in the Dept of Public Works…

help ask Mayor Kenoi to move it forward!

It is common knowledge, since the controversy over Bill 270, that alternative building legislation has broad support island wide and is long overdue. It has the potential to offer great relief to the occupants of over 7,000 non-compliant homes and to County staff that have the impossible task of enforcing the current building codes.

Councilman Zendo Kern has researched and written a draft for an alternative building code bill and submitted it to DPW for their review and comments, but nothing has happened for a long time.


The Department of Public Works has sidelined this initiative and has effectively stalled the process.


In Hawaii, the building codes are hugely complex and create big extra expenses for small owner/builders.  They require buildings to be overbuilt for this mild climate, mandating construction techniques that are not needed here and materials that must be shipped in from far away.  We want to be able to build with local and recycled materials, using innovative techniques.

Thousands of people have simply chosen to quietly build their own homes with no permits or codes.  These people live in fear that they will be reported.  The county policy is to ignore the many people living this way until there is a complaint, and then the laws are selectively enforced.

Help us ask Hawaii Mayor Kenoi to get this moving!

Thanks so much!

Graham Ellis,

Chairperson, Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance


POSITION PAPER of the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance


A sustainable community (SC) consists of one or more households that share a location and the conscious intention to be self-reliant, resilient, resource-conserving, equitable, and ecologically restorative—while providing a good quality of life for community members and future generations.

(A household is here defined as two or more people who share a shelter system that includes facilities for eating, sleeping, bathing, and gathering.)

The members of an SC

  • cooperate with each other and with neighbors, for the accomplishment of shared purposes.
  • are responsible and accountable to each other, to neighbors, and to the larger world for the consequences of how they live.
  • steward valuable resources for the benefit of future as well as present generations.

A Sustainable Community:

  • provides many of its basic/subsistence needs (water, food, clothing, shelter, energy, waste management) on site, using primarily local resources (human/natural/financial).
  • reuses or recycles almost all of its “wastes.”
  • is prepared for natural and other emergencies.
  • promotes and aims for income, gender, and intergenerational equity.
  • restores and regenerates degraded eco-systems, while ensuring that land use, building, transportation and other systems are minimally damaging to the biosphere.
  • offers learning opportunities to all ages about the challenges and technologies of living sustainably.
  • is part of a global community: Most SCs have and utilize access to the internet, hence to neighbors, each other, the world, and the global information base.

Why do people choose sustainable community?

The sustainable community movement is leading the way to a new era of more productive, innovative, resource conserving, energy efficient living systems.

Most creators and members of Sustainable Communities (SCs) are motivated, at least partly, by discontent with the standard modern consumerist lifestyle.

Large, complex, centralized, 20th century industrial systems continue to become less functional and less reliable, climate change continues, food (along with water) is becoming the “new gold,” and energy is becoming more and more scarce and expensive.

SC members seek something that is more communal, more ecologically restorative, less auto dependent, less money-oriented, more democratic and equitable, closer to nature, cleaner, healthier, and more spiritually fulfilling.

Most SC members seek economic independence through self-reliance that gives insulation from unreliable financial/labor markets and from the decisions of distant corporations and governments—meanwhile inventing and building alternative local provisioning systems and cultures.

SC’s want to leave our children with an inheritance of functioning, multi-purpose living systems that are capable of surviving and thriving in the 21st century.

SC’s provide friendship and support, and are an answer to the isolation and loneliness of a modern culture built of broken families and traditions.

SC’s support a network of people competent in the operation of alternative, appropriate technologies.

SCs build wealth in the form of functional, productive, efficient and equitable living systems that are strong foundational units of healthy, vibrant neighborhoods, towns, and regions.

This includes

* human/social resources (health, knowledge, skills, relationships, organization, education);

* built resources (appropriately-scaled subsistence infrastructure and technologies for energy and water harvesting, food production, waste recycling, etc.);

* and natural resources of their local ecosystems (soil fertility, vegetation, wildlife).

Summary of the BENEFITS  provided by SC living systems

Food security

External security

On-site productivity

Resource conservation (water, energy, materials)

Employment opportunities

Educational opportunities/outcomes/potential


Healthy environment for children and elderly

Help with child raising

Health care/maintenance

Internal communication

Internal sharing

Communication/cooperation with neighbors

Sharing with neighbors

Saving money by pooling resources

Sharing tools and buildings

Caring for the environment- soil, water, air


What happened to HB111? in 2013

On March 21, the Senate Water and Land and Public Safety Committees held a joint hearing on the Sustainable Living Research Act bill. They voted to defer it. This means the bill is no longer alive this session. Senator Malama Solomon, the Water and Land Committee Chair acknowledged the substantial amount of written testimony in support of the bill. Elizabeth Dunne, an environmental attorney who has been helping the Alliance with the bill’s language and lobbying efforts, provided live testimony in support and answered committee members’ questions.

While the legislators supported the concept, they were ultimately concerned about a number of issues raised by the counties who testified in opposition. County of Hawaii’s Planning Director, who testified in person against the bill, cited concerns about enforcement and liability and questioned whether the planning department was the best entity to administer the permit process.

The great news is that we got pretty far this year — through all the House committees!!

This means that the bill will start in the Senate next year. Moving forward, we need to: (1) further engage the planning departments of all counties to address their concerns about the sustainable living research site act permit process; (2) continue to educate the legislators on this important issue; (3) build a network of supporters on all islands; and (4) work on the language of the bill to best achieve our objectives while accounting for the concerns raised by interested parties.




To further the cause of sustainable living and sustainable community health and welfare.

Date: Saturday, October 26, 2013

Time: 2pm – 5pm

Location: Kalani Honua EMAX

12-6860 Kalapana-Kapoho Beach Road, Puna Makai, Hawaii


We would like to share the successes, strategies, stories and some of our research with you. Our national and local political climate has changed; ‘business as usual’ is not an option. There’s a virtual consensus on the belief that socio-economic changes are necessary to sustain the Big Island during more turbulent times. Let’s work on some SOLUTIONS.


register to vote!


Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance efforts are currently focused on changing government regulatory obstacles to sustainability and community.

We need to support candidates who support us!!

Register to vote.

July 12 is the deadline to register for the August 11, 2012 Primary election.

Who May Register to Vote?

You may register to vote if you are:

A citizen of the United States of America;

A legal resident of Hawaii; and

At least 18 years of age.

How to Register to Vote?

By Mail: Mail in voter registration form is widely available. Mail the completed Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration to the Office of the City or County Clerk where you reside.

In Person: Visit the Office of the City or County Clerk where you reside to complete an Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration.

Department of Motor Vehicle: The State of Hawaii Application for Motor Vehicle Driver’s License also contains a Motor Voter Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration allowing any individual to simultaneously apply for a driver’s license and register to vote.

Where to Get a Voter Registration Form?

Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration brochures are available at:

Public libraries

U.S. Post Offices

Phone Directory

State services agencies

University of Hawaii System

Office of Elections’ website (<>

Do You Need to Re-Register?

If you have changed your address or changed your name:

You must re-register.

Complete an Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration by mail or in-person at your City or County Clerk.

Your voter registration record will be updated upon receipt of a properly completed affidavit.

Notice to First Time Voters Who Register to Vote by Mail:

If you are (1) registering to vote for the first time in the State of Hawai’i; and (2) are mailing in this Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration you must provide proof of identification. Proof of identification includes a copy of:

A current and valid photo identification, or

A current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or government document that shows your name and address.

If you do not provide the required proof of identification with this Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration, you will be required to do so at your polling place, or with your voted absentee mail-in ballot.

Questions? Contact:

County of Hawaii: (808) 961-8277


Oregon Ecovillage links

In Oregon in general, Recode Oregon is a great resource, with relevant activities re code issues in diverse parts of the state:

Portland is buzzing with related activity. At least seven Cohousing groups listed in the CohoUS directory, find them here by scrolling down to Oregon:

The FIC site has a directory of intentional communities, here’s Oregon’s listing:

Some particular ones I know of include Tryon Community:

Columbia Ecovillage:

Kailash Ecovillage in SE:

City repair (founded and still headquartered in Portland) may have info on ecovillage activities as well, plus being a live example of reclaiming the commons and asking for forgiveness rather than permission:


Planning and Zoning for Ecovillages

The best article l’ve found on Planning and Zoning for Ecovillages is


and be sure to check out our sister organization on Maui and their excellent power point presentation on ecovillage zoning


YouTube video on Sustainable Communities

l just watched this very comprehensive YouTube video on Sustainable Communities presented by Dr. Kelly Cain to the Saulk County, Wisconsin,  Comprehensive Plan Steering group. It has lots of very valuable data that would benefit our cause as well as all Hawaii County sustainability initiatives.



Laws encouraging installing residential solar systems


There was legislation that passed in Vermont in May 2011 and Colorado in June 2011 making it easier and cheaper to install residential solar systems. We support adopting similar legislation in Hawaii in the belief that it will add substantially to Hawaii State’s goal to achieve 70% clean energy by 2030.

Links to the relevant Acts are listed below and a copy of the simple permitting process is attached.







Natural Building Network

Natural Building Network  is a not-for-profit membership association promoting natural building principles, materials and practitioners worldwide. We support ecological regeneration, social justice, the building of community and economic opportunity, and the recognition of indigenous wisdom as essential in creating healthy, beautiful, and spiritually-uplifting habitation for everyone.